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Hawaii Might Become The First State To Ban Cigarettes

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Long gone are the days of Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man.

For decades now, governments have wrestled with how to limit cigarette use. In a country that values free will and a consumer's right to choose, we've never known how to limit a very popular, very deadly, product that's on the market.

Study after study has shown that long-term cigarette use drastically increases your risk of lung cancer. According to the CDC, cigarettes are linked to over 80% of all lung cancer deaths. There's also increased risk for COPD, emphysema, heart disease, and a host of other illnesses.

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Yet, like alcohol, cigarettes remain on store shelves for those who wish to buy them.

Until now?

Hawaii is considering a state bill that will phase out cigarette sales in the years to come. The bill, proposed by Democratic state Rep. Richard Creagan, would see the minimum age required to purchase cigarettes increase from 21 to 30 in 2020, 40 in 2021, 50 in 2022, 60 in 2023 and 100 in 2024.

The bill is a ban in all but name, but that might be the thing that gets it passed. It uses the same law that currently exists, age requirements on products, but pushes it to the extreme.

Individual states are allowed to control their own laws surrounding alcohol or cigarette sales, so the federal government is unlikely to step in.

Although a much different circumstance, laws limiting the availability of a product or service - but not banning them - have been a tool for state governments opposed to abortions. It has seen mixed success in court challenges.

Creagan doesn't think his bill is going too far though. He said the government has a responsibility to protect the public health.

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"Basically, we essentially have a group who are heavily addicted — in my view, enslaved by a ridiculously bad industry — which has enslaved them by designing a cigarette that is highly addictive, knowing that it highly lethal. And, it is," he told the Tribune-Herald.

The bill would not apply to cigars, chewing tabacco or e-cigarettes.

I've been writing for Shared for 6 years. Along with my cat Lydia, I search for interesting things to share with you! You can reach me at Tristan@shared.com.